|Enniskillen 1st XV
||19 - 15
||Academy 1st XV
Enniskillen First XV continued their excellent 2015 form on Saturday with a hard fought win over strong opposition, defeating Academy RFC 19-15 at home. After a few high scoring results of late the victory was an excellent psychological test for this side who, after taking an early lead, found themselves having to surgically chip away at a substantial Academy lead with precise execution after conceding two tries, not to mention the numerous key injuries in the squad.
The win sees Enniskillen continue to climb up the league, as a combination of postponed fixtures and a few poor results early in the season left them with a league ranking that hardly reflected the ability of the side. Tough tests continue as they play away to Omagh this weekend but the side have certainly proved of late they are one of the most competent sides in this league and coach Norman Richmond feels they are well capable of getting a result against the league leaders.
"On Saturday it was again another assured performance from the 1st XV. The game was never going to be a fluid one what with injuries and the Mullaghmeen seasonal weather but we dug in and took our opportunities when presented to us. It is pleasing that we have completed the double over a good Academy team as last year we fell short over both games. We travel to Omagh this week for the local derby game and as the league leaders Omagh will be confident although we still feel robbed following our narrow home defeat against them at Christmas and we will be hoping to repay the compliment this Saturday as momentum increases within the team.”
The game was clearly set to be a physical contest from the start with a big Academy pack keen to carry ball against the home side, but the defensive effort was aggressive from Enniskillen and Alan Wilkinson at inside centre worked hard to shut the opposition back line down early. Academy gained good ground early on and had Skins under pressure but for a knock on deep in the Enniskillen half, the resultant Skins scrum was powerful from the home side and was well cleared by Chris McVitty at out-half. A knock on at the line out led to an Academy scrum and again Skins seemed to be initially getting the better of the contest, then a worrying blow for Skins as scrum-half Paddy McCleery was forced to leave the field following a collision, with winger Kyle Johnston assuming the scrum-half duties, Mark Hood taking the field at back row and utility player Jack Harte moving to the wing.
Academy now seemingly settled into the scrum contest and started to show their dominance, the Enniskillen front row penalised for popping up and Academy gaining first blood with 3 points from a kick at goal. Skins showed their frustration and were once again penalised at the breakdown allowing Academy to venture deep into the home side’s territory, thankfully a stolen line out from Richard Grey relieved some pressure and Kyle Johnston attempted to clear their lines but the Academy wingers showed their counter attack ability and Enniskillen were once again under pressure inside their own 22 metre, good defence from the forward pack with Jamie Johnston and Michael Cadden leading from the front held the opposition off for some time but an eventual penalty allowed Academy another attempt, thankfully drifting wide but leaving Enniskillen looking rattled.
Skins came out looking determined after the 22 metre drop out and good carrying from Johnston and the forwards was galvanised by more powerful running from Wilkinson at centre working off Chris McVitty. A penalty was awarded to Enniskillen following an infringement at the breakdown and they had an opportunity to capitalise with a kick to touch deep into Academy’s half, the line out was unfortunately lost and an ensuing penalty from a late hit had Skins pinned back in their own half once again, but good pressure from Richie Grey at the line out once again spoiled Academy’s chances and Jack Harte managed a clearance kick after a good cleanup from Jamie Johnston.
There was then a balanced period of play with both teams gaining good ground but neither capitalising on their opportunities, Enniskillen continued to disrupt the Academy line out and clear their lines, while Alan Wilkinson marshalled the back line defence excellently. Then following yet another penalty at the ruck area McVitty kicked to touch deep in the Academy half and while Academy disrupted the Skins line out, they knocked the ball on in the process to award the home side a scrum. Skins won their own ball comfortably and following a powerful carry from Jamie Johnston, the ball found Ryan Cathcart who put Mark Hood away in space for a strong carry from the debutant, and with a clinical clear out at the ruck scrum-half Kyle Johnston spotted space at the edge of the breakdown and went on a sniping run through for a try under the posts, converted by McVitty to leave the score 7-3.
Skins were hungry for points now at this stage and attacking well but failed to capitalise on an Academy knock on in their own half when once again penalised for popping up at the scrum, the visitors seemingly now in the ascendency in the scrummaging contest. Luckily for the home side the Academy line out continued to struggle and good tackling from Jamie Johnston and Steven Fox kept the visitors at bay. Academy were then penalised for lying over the ball at the breakdown and Skins went on the offensive again into the opposition half with a good kick to touch from McVitty, the following line out and maul worked well before going out the backs and a strong line from Nathan Richmond made excellent yards. Academy continued to be penalised for breakdown infringements and were lucky not to receive a yellow card, confusion and controversy then seemed to follow when Skins kicked to touch for an expectant line out, only for the referee to signal the end of the half and extinguish Enniskillen’s hopes of more points before halftime.
Chris McVitty restarted the second half and Academy looked to shift it wide and utilise their capable wingers but the defensive effort was good and the home side got possession following an excellent take from Alan Wilkinson under the high ball. Enniskillen then showed their ability with ball in hand through Jamie Johnston out wide to Zach Charlton who passed inside to Davy Buchanan with the big second row very nearly crossing the Academy try line. Enniskillen looked sure to score with Academy under pressure and being constantly penalised but an unfortunate Enniskillen knock on inches from the Academy try line ended the threat. Academy relieved the pressure with a clearance kick and after an Enniskillen knock on gave Academy valuable territory the visitors began to attack fervently, and with their dominant scrum making it difficult for Enniskillen to recover. Enniskillen dealt with the close quarters attack fairly well but when Academy shifted the ball wide their pacy winger found a way through out wide to score in the corner and put Academy ahead 8-7.
Enniskillen still looked to be playing good Rugby from the restart but were unfortunate when an almost majestic kick from Chris McVitty just trickled dead and gave Academy a scrum back in the Enniskillen half. The Academy scrum made huge ground with Enniskillen going back rapidly and with the following kick through from Academy Enniskillen were forced to touch the ball down behind their own try line for a 5-metre scrum, Academy took this opportunity as expected with a huge drive resulting in a penalty try to the visitors and Enniskillen now trailing 15-7.
The home side reacted well and with Academy allowing the restart to go dead, Alan Wilkinson claimed the Academy 22 metre drop out excellently and Steven Fox and Johnston carried well in the Academy half, sensing the side were under pressure McVitty chanced a probing grubber kick through for the backs to chase but unfortunately this went dead. Another good take from the 22 drop out by Cathcart kept Skins on the front foot and a penalty for Academy venturing offside at the ruck allowed McVitty to take 3 points from a kick at goal to reduce the lead to 15-10.
Enniskillen continued to play a patient game and Academy’s frustration showed, penalised again at the breakdown and allowing McVitty to kick for valuable territory. Mark Hood gathered the line out ball deep in Academy’s half and a penalty soon after from a high tackle allowed McVitty another 3 points from the boot.
Richie Beatty took the restart well and Johnston carried ferociously out of the Enniskillen 22 gaining valuable ground. Academy attempted to get back in the game but the defence from Enniskillen was tenacious with big hits from Richie Beatty and Jack Harte stopping the visitors in their tracks. Skins then regained possession following an Academy knock on and after good phases of attack Donagh O’Callaghan almost broke through. Good tackling from Mark Hood forced a knock-on and then a breakdown infringement gave Enniskillen another penalty and yet another 3 points from McVitty for Enniskillen to lead 16-15.
It was a tense last 5 minutes for the home support but Skins looked resolute in maintaining this result. David Buchanan took the restart excellently and made great yards, McVitty then kicked for territory but the Academy back three’s counter attack looked very threatening and tackling from Michael Cadden and Mark Hood just about kept them back. A typical David Buchanan steal at the ruck gave the home side possession and Wilkinson executed a perfect kick into touch in the Academy half, the resultant line out was well disrupted again by Enniskillen who regained possession, and as Jamie Johnston threatened with close quarter carries the Academy forwards were once again offside at the ruck and gifted Chris McVitty another kick at goal to leave the score 19-15.
Academy had a brief window to take the win but Stevie Welsh took the restart well and Kyle Johnston, just about, made touch with a box kick to end the game and secure the win for Enniskillen.